Ashley Curtin began traveling the world at a young age when her parents would buckle her into a car seat and bring her along for the ride.Now a way of life, she left the corporate world to pursue a nomadic lifestyle.She has traveled extensively through North America and Europe and parts of Africa. ...Find out more!
It was just a little over six months ago when I was planning a trip through Italy when a friend recommended I make a pit stop in Cinque Terre. “Cinque what,” was all I remember thinking to myself. But I quickly added it to our itinerary after seeing just one picture of the beautiful sea and was even more awe struck when I landed in one of the five villages along the Mediterranean Coast.
Falling in love with the dramatic coastline and perching myself atop cliffs overlooking the water, Riomaggiore, the first of the five villages, won my heart. I found myself among a magical traveler’s haven in which I told myself, “This is the place I will return year after year after year.”
Quaint, breathtaking and deeply authentic, Riomaggiore is made up of two sections, which was once divided by a river, and therefore giving it its name; major river. The way of life was whimsical, the people I met had strong personalities and the climate was something of perfection.
Pastel homes built on mountains overlooked the turquoise sea. Residents hung outside their windows and listened to the water crash against the rocks. Families packed bags and laid towels across the rocky beach just to catch some rays, while kids jumped off high cliffs diving into the warm sea. Many locals looked forward to this season, when tourists flocked the land and help them keep their traditions alive serving fresh produce, cheeses, cured meats, piping hot wood grilled pizzas and delicious homemade pastas from tiny store fronts.
Then in October, torrential rain and high winds brought flash floods burying the villages’ streets with mud and uprooting family businesses, which once thrived off of the tourism and traditions that were once in place. The Huffington Post said that devastation emotionally crippled the people of Cinque Terre as they watched the villages they feverishly built up get knocked to the ground. And now, what were once five villages is down to three.
While the towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola and Corniglia managed to get through the storm with little damage because of their high elevation, Vernazza and Monterosso were said to be completely wiped out. Rivers of mud covered the village roads while cars were piled on top of each other making it almost unrecognizable from the hundreds of pictures I scoured through over the Internet.
A person that instantly came to mind after hearing about the Cinque Terre devastation was Simone, the first person I met as I stepped off the train in Riomaggiore. He was accommodating enough to meet us at the train station, reached out his hand to take my bag and showed us to the apartment we were renting. Simone’s friendliness played through my mind and I remembered the eagerness he had for us to become acquainted with his village by excitedly pointing out restaurants and directing us to his favorite little Italian market. It felt like he was my long lost friend and now I was worried about his family, his well-being and his future.
However, it is times like these when our travel community needs to come together and help the people of the land survive after such a life-altering natural disaster. In all of our upcoming travel plans, you and I must keep the five villages of Cinque Terre in our travel plans because we are the life line for this charismatic region. While they seek out local government help, tourism is the answer to help build the region’s future economy. We are the people that can bring hope back into the minds and renew their strength.
No matter the magnitude of this natural devastation, the charm and magic will forever be present, it might just take some time to dig through and find again. So let’s rally around Italy and the residents of the villages and show the world how they too can carry on.
For more information on the apartment in Riomaggiore;
Via del Santuario 216b
Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy
phone: +39 320 6960259 or email